A cruise expert describes the biggest mistake Princess Cruises made in handling the coronavirus outbreak that infected over 700 people on the Diamond Princess

Princess Cruises Diamond Princess

Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

The cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama on February 7, 2020.

  • The captain on the Diamond Princess wasn't assertive enough in taking steps to prevent the coronavirus from spreading on the ship, according to cruise-industry expert Ross Klein.
  • "He had the ability to segregate crew members who may have been ill from those who weren't ill or to find ways of ensuring that crew members who potentially were ill were not eating at the same crew mess as the people who weren't ill," Klein said of the ship's captain.
  • But Princess did make a smart decision by canceling all cruises through May 10, Klein said.
  • Princess Cruises did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Before canceling all of its cruises through May 10, Princess Cruises received criticism for its handling of a coronavirus outbreak on its Diamond Princess ship that eventually infected over 700 passengers and crew members.

The biggest mistake made by the cruise line came from those running the ship, like its captain, said Ross Klein, a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland who studies the cruise industry and runs a website documenting illness outbreaks on cruise ships. The ship's captain wasn't proactive enough in taking steps to protect passengers and crew members, Klein said, leaning instead on the Japanese government, which imposed a quarantine over three days after learning that a prior passenger on the ship had tested positive for the coronavirus.Advertisement

"He had the ability to segregate crew members who may have been ill from those who weren't ill or to find ways of ensuring that crew members who potentially were ill were not eating at the same crew mess as the people who weren't ill," Klein said of the ship's captain.

Princess Cruises did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Being more decisive may not have stopped the coronavirus from spreading on the ship, but it could have at least slowed it down, Klein said. While Princess Cruises, which is owned by Carnival Corp., mishandled the Diamond Princess, Klein said the cruise line did make a smart decision by canceling all of its cruises until May 11.
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"I think that was a very wise move," he said. "I think it's unfortunate that it took them this long and that the remainder of the companies within Carnival and others haven't seen the value in taking that kind of an approach."

Ultimately, Princess Cruises isn't likely to suffer long-term reputational damage from its handling of the coronavirus, Klein said, pointing to Holland America Line, which recovered after multiple norovirus outbreaks in 2002."Within a year, people pretty much forgot," he said.Advertisement

Do you work for Princess Cruises or another Carnival Corp. cruise line? Do you have an opinion about how the company has handled the coronavirus? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com. You can also reach out on Signal at 646-768-4712 or email this reporter's encrypted address at mmatousek@protonmail.com.

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